Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, AJ

By the time I went to bed last night, I was feeling a little better. I, at least, was all cried out. I started to make a list of questions to ask the doctor when I go in next week.

And I pushed aside my feelings today, for a few hours, to go to the hospital to meet my brand new great-nephew, born at 7:39am. He’s beautiful and when I was holding him, I started to feel a little sad. But I remembered that it wasn’t about me today, it was about him. It was his day and I didn’t want to ruin this first moment with him.

I wished, however, that I had told more people in my family about my plans. I thought that I was being premature in telling anyone, but now, in hindsight, I wished I had. I could use the support as I deal with the ever growing list of questions about infertility and possibly adoption.

I could have used a hug today, a tight hug, from someone who would have known how difficult it was for me to even think about heading up to the maternity ward just hours after my niece gave birth. And it wasn’t just a trip up to the hospital, it was an hour-plus drive to Syracuse. And I know I could have faked a sore throat or something, but no matter how bad I was feeling about my own situation, I would never have missed that experience of meeting Andrew Jordan on his very first birthday.

Flashes of thoughts went through my mind as I held him — would he ever have a cousin from me? How great it’ll be, they’ll only be a few years apart. When I would think about my baby, I would imagine that I would have had him or her in later 2008 or early 2009. Just a couple years between my little one and AJ, and with Ryan five years older than mine — they would have been the same number of years apart as me and my niece. That was a comforting thought.

Monday, June 25, 2007

And then the phone rang...

I had a great appointment with Carolyn this morning. She was really happy with my numbers, with my food and exercise diary, and she commented on the peace she could see in me. We decided that I only need to see her every three weeks, as long as I’m feeling good about things. And we talked about how this is no longer about learning how to eat properly, how not to be afraid of food anymore, but rally about losing weight in a very healthy (mentally as well as physically) way.

We talked about how much easier my mind games will be when I get pregnant. I don’t want to get pregnant at this weight, but if I can lose 30 pounds between now and next year, I will be much more relaxed about the pregnancy weight I gain. She agreed. So she’s on board with the plan, as well.

And then the plan went to hell.

I got back from a meeting this afternoon with a message from the OB/GYN. I called back and told them to call my cell phone. I wondered what it it could be about — I already have my consultation scheduled for next week. I thought the worst for a second; they’re going to tell me I can’t get pregnant. And then I shook that thought out of my head. It was probably something about my test results from my earlier pap or mammogram.

About a half hour later, the phone rang. “We got the blood work back, and I’m afraid I don’t have very good news.”

She said something about hormone levels, and the doctor looking at the results, and the very real possibility that I look into getting an egg donor. And she gave me numbers — levels that should have been under 50, and mine is at 123. I stammered something about cancelling the appointment for next week, and she said absolutely not. That she called to tell me so I could absorb the shock, so I could process it, so I could go into the appointment next week with questions.

My voice cracked, I heard the sympathy in hers and we said good-bye. And then I started to cry. This can’t be happening. I’m healthy. I’ve done things the right way. I don’t smoke, I hardly ever drink, I work out, I eat right. I’ve planned.

I cried hard for 10 minutes, after summoning Hope from down the hall on IM. She cried. She gave me good advise. “This is just one person’s opinion. This is not the end of the world. This is not a death sentence.”

I blew my nose, wiped my eyes, and got ready for my meeting in three minutes. It was the longest hour of my life, but I made it through. I shut my conputer down and went home. I talked to my sister-in-law, and started crying all over again. Harder this time, with the comfort of my own house around me. She said all the right things, didn’t try to sugar-coat it.

I tried to read but the words blurred. I tried to watch TV, but nothing made sense. I laid on the couch and fell asleep to back-to-back episodes of Law & Order (thank you, TNT). I felt a little better when I woke up, like it was a dream.

And even now, it seems surreal. Could this really be happening? Why can’t anything be easy, in relative terms, of course? If I was married and had to deal with infertility, I feel like it would be a little easier. I would have someone else going through the same things with me. I’m not married, I came to terms with that because I could still have a baby.

What possible thing could I have done in my past lives to warrant this? I talked to a girlfriend tonight, and she said the one thing no one else had, the one thing that I was afraid to say out loud, but needed to hear: “This is so god-damn unfair.”

It is unfair. And wrong on so many levels. I know fertility is a big issue, but it always seems to effect the wrong people. Not the 16-year-olds in Wal-mart with their three kids. But the adult professionals who work to get to this point in their life, when they are financially and emotionally stable to make this happen.

And now the binder, the planning, the pre-natal vitamins, even the Target registry, seem like a big cruel joke. Did I jinx myself?

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Or purging, in preparation for nesting. I’ve been cleaning all weekend. And planning — because, let’s face it, I’m a planner. Obsessively so. :)

I pulled all my Christmas stuff out from the closet — five big Rubbermaid bins. Unwrapped every ornament or knick-knack, and managed to purge out enough stuff (things I haven’t seen in 10 years) to get rid of two bins worth. And then I went through my books, CDs, tapes and DVDs.

I planned how the second bedroom will look as the nursery. I’ll keep one wall of all my bookshelves, because those won’t fit anywhere else; rip up the carpet, put down some flooring, and paint the walls a nice sage green (and then Piglet pink accents if I’m having a girl, and Eeyore blue for a boy).

And most exciting of all (yes, I’m a big nerd!), I made up my binder. I even typed up the tab dividers — doctor visits, insurance, pregnancy, nursery/fun stuff. I read through some articles and made questions for my next appointment.

It’s all about having a plan and being organized. I started to work on a budget — the big things I will need to buy — and priced the crib, changing table, etc at Target. I even started a registry so I could keep track of the prices.

And most importantly, I thought long and hard about how to ask my parents for some help. Everything fits into the budget, except the cost of sperm and the medical costs associated with trying to get pregnant. I’m going to ask them for whatever money they would have given me for my wedding.

And really, at this point, if I do ever get married, I’m over the huge lavish fancy wedding. At my age, I feel it would be inappropriate anyway.

I really feel like I’ve made peace with that. I’ve accepted that it may not ever happen, and now I’m moving on to what I can control. I’ve slept good all weekend, and I feel good about my eating and exercise. In control of it all.

I ate when I was hungry, I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t exercise. I’m excited to go to the nutritionist in the morning to see if the numbers reflect my positive attitude. For several months, I’ve felt in control of the eating disorder, but now I feel in control of the non-disorder, if that makes any sense. It was a non-issue the past few weeks. And I think coming to peace with my personal life, my situation, has had a lot to do with that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Baby Box

I know, I know. I’m not even pregnant yet. I haven’t even chosen my sperm donor yet. But I’ve started to collect things. I have a big Rubbermaid container in the closet of the second bedroom — what will someday, I hope, be the nursery.

I have a Babe Ruth night-light, and children’s sized small Yankees/Ruth shirt. A light purple teddy bear. Some onesies and cute little outfits I’ve found on sales racks. In both sexes. Some books. Some pajamas from Old Navy. There is a baby name book and a pregnancy/exercise book for dummies. Most things I have bought myself, but I have had help with things that are just too cute to pass up by my sister-in-law and niece.

And when I went to the OB last week, she gave me a new magazine. In it was a contest (also several drawings that I’ve already entered) — to win the editor’s registry. $5,000 worth of very cool baby stuff. And not silly, cute extra stuff. But really useful things — a bassinet, a nursing system, car seat and stroller, baby backpack carrier, etc.

My entry was really the start of this column (you say blog, I say column — someday I will fulfill my dream to be Carrie Bradshaw!) so I won’t bore you with the details of my entry. It’s the same stuff you’ve heard.

But here’s my question — the little thing niggling at the back of my brain. Am I jinxing myself? Am I buying stuff too early? Am I getting ahead of the game, counting my eggs before I even know if they’re viable, so to speak?

I do worry about that. And I worry that I’m setting myself up for a colossal disappointment. But I have to remember that if it’s meant to be…. Someone wise once told me that God doesn’t make mistakes. He isn’t going to suddenly look down and say, “oh my….Ellie is still single and childless….how did I let that happen?” And so maybe the single thing is all part of the master plan. I have to believe that. And I have to believe that I’m meant to be a mom…someday…somehow.

Mixed Reactions

When I was in Baltimore (on my way to Richmond) last month, I stopped to see friends. Part of me was considering asking Tim to be the sperm donor — but was really nervous about asking. It is kind of a personal thing.

Over beers, I told him about my decision. That I was going to be looking into getting pregnant by my next birthday. I was expecting a “that’s great, Red,” or “wow, how exciting.”

Instead, I got, “why would you want to do that on your own? You just need to get your hooks into some guy — you’re just not trying hard enough.”

I was stunned and shocked. Later, after I had time to digest it, it just made me really sad. I tried to make a joke out of it. “So I’m guessing if I need you to be a sperm donor, the answer is no.”

Well, I accomplished what I needed to. I asked about him giving me some baby batter — and got a definitive answer. What was most surprising was his attitude. I know that from some people I will hear things like this. I will get the negative response, when what I really want is positive and supportive. It is something I am going to have to live with, something I will need to develop a thick skin about. And something I will need to come up with a response to. I expect this kind of response from other people — I was completely off guard to hear it from Tim.

My family — I am the youngest of a large brood. Even now, at 37, I am still treated like the baby. I completely feel like they see me as less of an adult because I am unmarried, still single, childless. My niece, with her house, husband, three-year-old and baby on the way, is much more an adult than I am – at least that is how I see their perception of me. Short of marrying the next man I see, I don’t know how to change it. I just live with it.

So, I was pleasantly surprised — more than pleasantly — when I told one of my sisters (previously mentioned niece’s mom) of my plans. I needed to. I needed to know that I would have some family support.

She was excited. Truly excited to hear my news. And she got teary-eyed, and I got teary-eyed — and we hugged, and I told her I was so glad to hear that she was happy, that I didn’t know how much support I would get. She has no idea how much is entailed with that one sentence, but she hugged me tighter. And that one moment more than made up for Tim’s reaction.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Master Plan

For as long as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to have a baby. And even way back when it seemed foolish to have such thoughts, I always knew that by a certain age, I would do it on my own if I never got married. Did I jinx myself? Or was it merely a foreshadowing to future events?

In my early 20’s, I said if not married by 32, then pregnant by 33. As my 30’s crept closer and closer, so too did my target age move up and up. Part of it was because I wasn’t in a strong enough financial situation to do it on my own. (Since graduation, I had always worked in the non-profit world. What I didn’t understand then, was that non-profit organizations make a profit. How would they survive otherwise? No, the non-profit part refers to its employees. No profit for me. It was all about paycheck to paycheck. Even now, three years removed from a non-profit, I am still paying on it — paying off credit cards that helped supplement my income.)

Enough of that….back to my pregnancy plan. So part of the decision to hold off was financial. The other part — the romantic optimist in me thought that if I did it on my own, I would be giving up on finding love. And I believed that for a long time. Part of me still does, but the need to be a mom (and the ever closing window on that opportunity) has grown stronger and squelched most of those thoughts.

Do I hope to someday get married? Absolutely. It’s just that now the whole image of the big wedding and the fancy dress and the 10 bridesmaids….it has been replaced by something much more subtle and age appropriate.

This past year, I finally made the decision to “shit or get off the pot.” And to do that, I needed to share my plan with people. That made it real. At Christmas, I told my sister-in-law. She was the right amount of happy, excited and cautious. She asked questions, and once satisfied that I truly had thought this out, gave me her unconditional support. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that coming from everyone in my family. So we’re keeping them in the dark for right now.

Next I told my closest friends. And really through the spring, it was nothing more than that — just talk of the plan — until I had my annual exam, and I had the talk with my doctor, who immediately prescribed prenatal vitamins. Suddenly, it seemed very real. And very exciting. And very scary.

I started thinking of baby names. That eased a little of the fear. Jack. Mason. Oliver. Sophie. Madeleine. Olivia. Thinking of my pre-conceived peanut’s name is calming. It makes me realize why I’m going through all of this on my own. I love this baby already, before it even exists. Having a name — even if I end up hating all of those by the time I deliver — makes it a real entity.

I took the next step last week — I had a physical at the office of a new OB/GYN. One who specializes in infertility. My situation is unique in that I won’t necessarily be infertile, but will be going through the process of a woman with fertility issues in how I try to get pregnant.

I met with Jan, an RN, who was so empathetic to my situation and so understanding, I knew I was in the right hands for this process. She glossed over stats and numbers, and told me not to get preoccupied on them, which I appreciated. She sent me home with two new magazines about pregnancy and conception. I’ve stopped taking the pill, and this month during my cycle will get blood work done to measure hormone and egg levels. And next month, I go back for a consultation.

If all looks good — if they determine that medically I should have no problem getting pregnant (minus the percentages because of my age) — we will chart my ovulation for a few months, so that after the holidays I can start shopping for some “baby batter.”

By the spring, my credit cards will be mostly paid off. My savings will have been built up to a safe cushion. And I will have gone through this thought process, talking through this plan with multiple professionals, for over a year. And then, I will spring it on my family. Can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Goal without a Plan is just a wish

I’ve been wishing for a baby since I was 16. Had I been a less-responsible girl, I would have a kid in college by now. But I waited, I did things the “right” way. I finished high school, I went to college. I got a job. I got a better job. I moved away from home for my dream job. And after five years of that, I wanted to be closer to my family.

And so I’ve been back in New York for three years. In all this time — the time between graduating college and moving back to New York, I’ve been in love exactly two times. Both were unrequited. This isn’t a pity-party — just the facts, ma’am.

All in all, in the course of doing things “right” I forgot that there are some things that are out of my control. The husband thing. Making the perfect man — or even the less than perfect man – fall madly in love with me.

And so here I am, three years from 40. Seriously planning, seriously about to have a baby. Well….seriously about to try to get pregnant.

This is my quest and my journey. I know it’s the right one for me. It would be so wrong if I were never a mom. It will suck completely and totally if I’m never a wife, but I can handle that. The world will be wrong — my life will be incomplete if I’m never a mom. Even if that means doing it on my own.

And it feels so right. And when I tell friends of my plans, nine and a half times out of 10, I hear, “you’re going to be an amazing mom.” (We’ll discuss the half a time, I haven’t heard that at a later date — remind me.)

I’ve started collecting things — a Babe Ruth night light, a purple teddy bear, “Good Night Moon,” and penguin jammies. All these things in a box for my not-yet-conceived little one, my pre-conceived notion.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome home, Roxie Carmichael!

I can't believe its been since October 2006 since I've last written on this blog. I've missed this place. I moved away and started over twice, never really feeling at home. I was too boxed in, too stifled. I tried too hard to stay within the very confining names that I had chosen. And in that time, I went through life-changing experiences (for the better) and finally began to accept my life -- my single life -- for what it is. And am beginning to make decisions based on that.

And so here I am -- a single girl, still in search, but in search of different things than I was years ago, even months ago. I'm content and ready to move on.

The single part of me with stay the same, but I won't be alone for long. This is a new journey, one that won't be just about me.